Friday, December 24, 2010

La Strega di Natale

Maria Fiorenzano was one of the little trovatelli of Giusvalla .... born to a young unwed mother among i brichi ed i boschi, Maria was given the surname “Fiorenzano.” The floral reference was typical of almost all the little trovatelli of Giusvalla, however the name carries another connotation which was most certainly intended by Maria’s mother to impart a blessing of hope and good wishes upon her unfortunate baby girl. Maria was born on Christmas Eve in the year 1832, a time when the villagers of Giusvalla still held tightly to the old beliefs and folklore. A baby girl born on Christmas Eve was said to be destined to become a witch. This old superstition would not have been lost on the townfolk of Giusvalla. And so perhaps Maria’s sanguine surname was intended by her mother to counteract a curse.

The details of Maria’s childhood have been lost to time, and there is no reason to believe that the old Italian superstition came true and she became a witch. If anything, the good fortune that her mother hoped for her seemed to follow her through life. Maria married young to a well-to-do merchant from Piemonte and moved with him to his hometown in the province of Cuneo where they raised a large family. When Maria died on December 31, 1894, she was said to be “possidente” (wealthy).

Bun Natòl a tùcci vuiocci!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Dowry of a Giusvalla Bride

In the days of our Giusvallini great-grandparents, the selection of a spouse was most often something along the lines of a financial transaction between two families. The process began with an agreement between two local families, the motivation was not necessarily one borne out of love or mutual affection between two young people. We are all familiar with the old stories of arranged marriages, perhaps some of these family stories have even made their way down through the generations .... sad stories of a great-grandmother who was in love with the boy from a neighboring farm, but was forced to marry another because the decision of who she was to marry was left in the hands of her parents. Such was life in the days of our forefathers, families did whatever was necessary to ensure their survival and this meant that sacrifices and difficult decisions sometimes had to be made. Sometimes our great-grandparents grew to love one another, other times they managed to learn to live with each other. Ultimately, divorce was not a possibility and the only sustainable option was to accept one’s fate and find a way to get through life.

The more traditional aspects of the arranged marriage varied from town to town and depended on what was locally considered valuable. The process was simple enough; the father of the girl would offer a dote (dowry) to the father of a local boy who he felt would make a good husband and provide well for his daughter. If the father of the boy accepted the offer, the girl and boy would accompany their parents to the local notary, where the financial aspects of the agreement would be formally recorded, as well as the intention and promise of the two young people to marry. Once the dote was witnessed and signed, it became a legal and binding contract. A breach of the contract meant financial loss to the family of the girl and the shame of rejection brought upon the boy and his family - it was understandably a rare occurrence.

Within a few weeks of the dote (and the subsequent payment to the family of the boy), the marriage ceremony would take place at the local parish church, or if the bride was from a neighboring town, the marriage would be celebrated at the parish in her hometown. Sometimes a family could not afford to make a lump payment of the dote, and in those cases a sort of “payment plan” would be made .... the dote might be 500 lire, paid in increments of 100 lire over a five year period. At the end of the five years and after the final payment (or in the event that the family of the groom for some reason decided to release the family of the bride from the balance of the original dote), a quittanza dote would be made between the two families. Again the notary would draw up the document stating that the debt had been satisfied and the family of the bride was released from its obligation.

In Giusvalla, the most prized and valuable dote was farmable land or property that included chestnut trees. Only the wealthiest families (and in Giusvalla there were few) could spare family land for the dowry of a daughter. The next most valuable dote came in the form of cash. Families that were better off could afford larger cash dowries, so when the wealthy father of Angela Maria Massa offered the family of Giuseppe Anselmi a dote of 700 lire, there was surely no question that it would be accepted. Poorer families were able to make far less lucrative offers, the young orphan Maddalena Angela Caterina Beltrame had been left a dowry of just 155 lire in the will of her father. It was hoped that it would be enough for the young girl to find a husband when the time came. Maddalena’s brother Giovanni Battista Beltrame was named the trustee of her dowry, and fortunately when Maddalena was old enough (maybe only 14 years old), a local widower named Gioanni Doglio accepted the offer.

Most of the families in Giusvalla were very poor, and the dowries of the poorest might consist only of a goat, or a bushel of chestnuts. The tradition of the dote continued virtually unchanged in Giusvalla (and throughout Italy) for hundreds of years. In the years between the World Wars, the custom fell out of practice and the young people of Giusvalla were free to choose their own spouses. Even so, for many years after, marriages outside of Giusvalla (or, at worst, a neighboring town) were still viewed with much disdain. When my cousin married a young man from Calabria in 1966, her parents did not approve, but ultimately the marriage took place and in time they came to accept the Calabrese boy with the strange customs and nearly unintelligible accent.

U temp u viagia … e lòchi u’na nent ritörn.

In the picture: Giuseppina Pesce & Giovanni Battista "Batistén" Perrone on their wedding day, October 5, 1911.

Friday, September 24, 2010

La chiesetta di Lalla Pina

Grandmom Rosaio was proud of her chiesetta, the little “church” she had built in the yard next to her house where she displayed statues of the Blessed Mother and her favorite saints. It was another tradition she brought with her from her hometown of Giusvalla, where le chiesette dot the countryside .... little “churches” that were erected by Giusvallini families to honor Our Lady or a saint to whom they had a particular devotion. Some of the chiesette were large enough to accommodate a small altar with a few pews. La Chiesetta della Madonna del Deserto (loc. Mulino), la Chiesetta della Madonna della Guardia (loc. Riondi) and la Chiesetta del Bambin di Praga (loc. Ciocchini) are the largest of the chiesette, each big enough on its own to resemble a small church. Others (loc. Caporali, Pimpiri, Zambon, etc.) were no bigger than a refrigerator box, with an opening where a statue and some candles could be placed and a stone at the base of the structure to kneel on.

Each chiesetta carries its own history, often intertwined with the history of a particular family in Giusvalla. The history of the chiesetta devoted to Our Lady of the Desert at località Mulino begins in the early 1910s with a man named Carlo Marenco who made a special promise to the Blessed Mother. Carlo’s son had been injured when a sharp piece of metal cut a deep gash into his leg. The leg became infected, and it appeared likely that the leg would have to be amputated. Carlo’s vow to the Blessed Mother was that if through her intercession his son’s leg healed and was spared amputation, he would build a chapel that he and all his descendants would maintain in her honor. And so when his son’s leg healed in spite of the doctor’s dire prediction, Carlo made good on his promise and the Chiesetta della Madonna del Deserto was built – and is maintained by Carlo’s descendants to this day.

Grandmom’s chiesetta was quite modest compared to Carlo Marenco’s grand chapel at Mulino. But we all knew her devotion to the little church in her yard, and the marvelous sight of the pious convocation of the Blessed Mother, the Infant of Prague and Grandmom’s favorite saints – St. Anthony of Padua, St. Joseph and St. Jude – is something we all remember with great fondness.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What’s in a name?

The etymology of Italian surnames is a fascinating topic to which my humble blogging could never do justice. Nor do I presume to be an expert on the topic, but for the casual family historian there are some basics I’ve learned over the years that may help you understand the origin of your Italian family name.

It wasn’t until the 15th century that the use of surnames began to take hold in the area that became Italy – and throughout Europe for that matter. As the human population exploded after the plague ridden Middle Ages, the use of a surname became essential, as you might guess, in order to distinguish one individual from another. The Council of Trent decreed what was really the first official act that required the recording of an individual with both their Christian name and surname in the parish registers throughout Europe.

But where did these names come from?

Probably the most common origin of the surname in Italy can be attributed to patronymics, where an individual came to be known through his connection to another person, usually his father. Therefore, Giovanni, the son of Antonio, might be called “Giovanni di Antonio.” Surnames such as “de Bartolomeis” (son of Bartolomeo) “Perrone” (son of Piero) and “Gerardi” (son of Gerardo) all reflect the given name of some remote ancestor.

Other Italian surnames are derived from a geographical reference. For example, Anthony of the town of Padua might have been called “Antonio di Padova,” or James who lived on the little hill might have been known as “Giacomo Collina.” Another common surname origin is related to an occupation, such as Tortarolo (miller of flour), Ferraro (smith/blacksmith), Vaccaro (herdsman), Pastore (shepherd), etc.

Still other Italian surnames originate in a nickname that was given to an ancestor. Giuseppe with a red beard may have become known as “Giuseppe Rossi,” or Marco with curly hair may have been called “Marco Ricci.” These surnames could derive from any physical or personality trait. The soldiers of the local nobleman “Bonifacio il Vasto,” who controlled the territory in the area that is now Giusvalla and the surrounding towns, became known by the nickname “i Bonifacini” - or individually - “Bonifacino.” Due to the many soldiers who were known by this nickname, the surname Bonifacino became quite common in the various towns throughout the Val Bormida.

Other Italian family names originated in the custom of giving an invented surname to children that were born out of wedlock or abandoned by their parents. These surnames were sometimes created by the child’s mother, or by the priest who recorded the baptism or the official who recorded the birth in the town hall. Different towns had different traditions when it came to naming their illegitimate or abandoned babies. Some towns named the babies after the month they were born in (Aprile, Ottobre, etc.), other towns gave the babies floral sounding names (Mirto, Fiorello, Mela). Surnames such as Esposito (exposed) and Trovato (found) were sometimes given to abandoned babies.

Dozens of surnames often evolved from the “root” name, so a simple surname like “di Giovanni” could take on many forms: Giovannoni, Giovanelli, Giova, Giannoni, Zunino, etc.

A vitally important consideration for the family historian is the distinction of unrelated families who share a common surname. Just like Anglo surnames such as “Johnson,” “Baker” and “Miller,” many Italian surnames are quite common and therefore it would be completely inaccurate to assume that two people with the same surname, even those living in a small town like Giusvalla, are related. The only way to prove that any two people are related is through genealogical research that documents a paper trail for both individuals back to a common ancestor.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Becco Sisters

Many of we Giusvallini here in the U.S. and our cousins in Italy are descended from the Becco sisters – Francesca (Becco) Pesce and Carlotta (Becco) Bazzano. Francesca was the mother of eight children, six of whom came to the U.S. as adults before Francesca herself came over in 1910 at the age of 59. Carlotta, who was 10 years younger than Francesca, was the mother of six children, two of whom came to the U.S. Carlotta stayed in Giusvalla, but came over to visit her two sons in the 1930s.

Francesca and Carlotta were among the large brood of children born to Francesco Becco and his wife Margherita. One of their brothers, Carlo Becco, married in 1876 to Angela Beltrame, a relative of the Carozzo and Camoirano families. Another sister, Giuseppina Becco, married Pietro Reverdito and their son Lorenzo came to Squirrel Run in 1910. Lorenzo was a gardener for the DuPont family for many years, then worked as a mushroom farmer and stone mason.

Francesca was a tiny woman, just over five feet. She became the matriarch of her large brood of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was known in the family as our “Mùma granda” and “Little Grandmom.” She lived with my great-grandmother up on the farm on Ebright Road, and my aunts often spoke of their memories of her as a kind and loving grandmother. She spoke only the Giusvalla dialect, and my aunts would reminisce about how they remembered her saying her prayers every night, kneeling beside her bed with her long hair hanging loose or in a braid down her back. Francesca died in 1940 at the age of 89, those who knew her during her lifetime still remember her with great fondness and much love.

Carlotta was taller than her older sister Francesca. She and her husband Giovanni Callisto Bazzano lived in a little house right along the strada provinciale near the center of Giusvalla. Giovanni held the important position of local postmaster, a vocation that later passed to his son Cide. One of my cousins tells me that she remembers Cide as a tall man, always dressed up formally in a suit and a tie and having a very serious expression with a deep baritone voice. He must have struck quite an imposing presence. Cide would stop at the Cavallo Bianco every day on his walk home from work for a glass of red wine. He was the youngest of Carlotta’s children, and died in 1977 at the age of 79. Carlotta made a visit to her sons Pietro “Pete” and Amedeo “Dave” in Kennett Square in 1931. She was almost 70 years old at the time and made the trip by herself, traveling aboard the steamer ship “Augustus.” She died at home in Giusvalla in 1943.

Like the Biblical Rebekah, who became “the mother of thousands of millions,” Francesca and Carlotta were blessed with an enormous progeny. We their descendants remember them with great pride.

In the picture: The Becco sisters, Carlotta Bazzano and Francesca Pesce, visit in Kennett Square (summer 1931).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Albert J. "Blue" Feliciani

My family spoke with great fondness of our cousins Jennie and Blue. Jennie was a sweet and gentle soul like her mother Lalla Genia, with a touch of red in her hair. She passed away in 2002, the last of her family which included four older brothers. Jennie’s husband Blue was just as wonderful and kind as she, I always heard it said what good people they were. We were saddened to hear that Blue passed away this past Monday, August 16.

We offer the following history in honor of Blue and Jennie.

Albert J. “Blue” Feliciani was born March 30, 1920 in the little town of Cellino Attanasio, which is located in the province of Teramo in the Abruzzo region of Italy. His parents Giuseppe & Carmella (Ragazzo) Feliciani had returned to Italy in 1919, a couple years after they married in Delaware, and Blue was born during the time when they were living back in Italy. The family returned to the United States through Ellis Island on May 1, 1921 aboard the S.S. Ferdinando Palasciano. Blue was just a year old and his name was written as “Umberto” Feliciani on the ship manifest.

A family legacy was born in the years following the Feliciani’s return to the United States. Blue’s father Giuseppe “Joseph” went to work as a gardener on the Henry Francis duPont estate “Winterthur” where his father-in-law Euplio “Abraham” Ragazzo was already employed as a carpenter. Joseph Feliciani worked on the Winterthur estate for 40 years, rising to the position of supervisor of the cutting garden. Blue followed in the steps of his father, he worked on the Winterthur estate for over 40 years, eventually taking over his father’s position of supervisor of the cutting garden. Blue’s son John continued the legacy, working on the Winterthur estate for nearly 40 years until his recent retirement.

Blue and Jennie spent 58 years of married life together, they raised a family of three children and had six grandchildren. A new kind of legacy has blossomed over the past several years with the arrival of six great-grandchildren.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Blue’s family - the kind and gentle nature of Blue and Jennie was well-known throughout the branches of your large extended family, and will not be soon forgotten.

In the picture: Cellino Attanasio, birthplace of Albert J. "Blue" Feliciani.

The Paris Shoe Repairing Co.

Giovanni Battista “Batistèn” Perrone came to Squirrel Run from Giusvalla in 1906. He was 25 years at the time and like his father “Piedrinìn,” he was a master shoemaker, so soon after his arrival he began making plans to start his own business in the city of Wilmington. He saved enough money working in the powder mills for a couple years to lease a building at 210 West 8th Street. Batistèn called his business the “Paris Shoe Repairing Co.” and hired other experienced Italians, including several of his fellow Giusvallini, to work in his shop. By the late 1910s, his business was doing very well; he had purchased the building on West 8th Street and a nice home at 3107 Monroe Street. He had a crew of many men and a secretary working for him. It is said in my family lore that his clients included various members of the DuPont family, and that he made special shoes for certain DuPonts that had particular podiatric needs.

Batistèn’s family included his wife, Josephine (Pesce), and their children Antonia (who died at birth), Paolo (who died at the age of 13 months), Alicina “Elsie,” Anne and Johnny. His three sisters, Paolina Camoirano, Katie Rosaio and Maria Baccino also came over from Giusvalla and lived in the area with their families. Around the time that they all gathered together with the other Giusvallini families in 1923 for the “Tutti i Giusvallini” reunion, Batistèn had begun to develop stomach problems. The problem got worse over the next few months, and in mid April 1924 he underwent an operation at the University of Pennsylvania hospital in Philadelphia. Later that week, Batistèn became frustrated with his recovery and left the hospital, probably prematurely. When he arrived in the city of Wilmington, he lost his balance as he was stepping off the trolley car and stumbled into the street, further injuring himself. He was brought home where he died in bed a few hours later. He was just 43 years old.

The funeral Mass for Batistèn was said at St. Patrick’s Church in Wilmington, and he was buried in St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Cemetery.

In the picture: The Paris Shoe Repairing Co. shop at 210 West 8th Street, Wilmington. Batistèn Perrone (owner) is on the far left. Also in this picture are Giusvallini Edgar Carozzo, Dave Bazzano and Henry Bonifacino.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Aj mei cüggèni

I was just a young kid when I became interested in our family history, I was fortunate to be exposed to so much of it growing up among a close knit legion of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents – and a strong sense of the extended family. Even as a child, I had a natural curiosity in the previous generations, I listened to the conversations my elders would have about “the old days.” My father often spoke to my sister and I of Giusvalla and our family there, passing along the many stories he remembered hearing during his own childhood. With the encouragement of my Aunts Anne and Elsie, I began writing to a 2nd cousin of the same age in Giusvalla who has become like a brother over the years. Back then, there was no internet or email, and we had no computer in the house. Everything was written out by hand, and it was often many months in between each letter.

Then when I started high school, I began researching our family history in earnest – that was almost 23 years ago now. There was still no such thing as the internet or email at that time. To trace your family tree you had to write letters to town halls, archives, courthouses and the like and wait for someone to look up the information for you, copy it and mail it back. Or go in person and look up the records yourself, sifting through drawers of dusty documents or carefully going line by line through bound copies of property deeds or probate records - hoping to find what you were searching for. If the records were microfilmed, you might spend hours in front of the microfilm reader, carefully reading each frame until your eyes went bleary. There were no instant answers "online," every step of the process required great pazienza. It has been quite a journey into the past.

I’ve met some really wonderful people along the way, various cousins that the family has lost touch with over the years and other people who simply share my interest. Some cousins I’ve written to never write back, some fade away again after awhile and others I’ve become very close with over the years. The capacity of some people’s generosity is what is most memorable to me. Folks that I hardly know – some of them not even related – who have sent me the nicest letters or even treasured family pictures and the like – and those who have never had email or a computer but continue to write or call.

How lucky I am to know such wonderful people, I am happy to call many of them “cousin.”

A nù nent parole per ringrazié aj mei cüggèni … che brovi ch’ishtei. Tanci grazie a tùcci!

In the picture: The Rosaio & Perrone cousins gather for Grandmom’s birthday, July 23, 1966.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Great Day for a Tomato Sandwich..

August is always a time of the year when tomato crops are in full harvest in virtually any Italian’s garden- I remember as a boy, hearing my Grandpop Salvo and my parents talking about having a “tomato sandwich” during this time of year and, as I’ve expressed in prior articles here, how hearing something like that as a child would simply blow me away.

Growing up in America in the 1970s and 80s, anyone who watched TV for at least one hour during that era would be familiar with the variety of commercials pertaining to fast food. Every hamburger, for the most part, would always be topped with some kind of cheese, lettuce, and yes…. Tomato. If you went out to eat at any other kind of restaurant, a sandwich would most likely be served with lettuce, tomato, and a pickle (or something to that effect).

So, having grown up in a world where tomato was the garnish of the sandwich, it amazed me that one could make a sandwich containing nothing other than…. Tomato!

Nevertheless, since that time in my youth, I’ve had many a tomato sandwich, including the ones I ate today, which prompted this article. If your family indulges in this hidden treasure of simple Italian cuisine, please post a comment in response to this article. It’s always great hearing the feedback we receive from our reading community!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ra shtoria d’ra Piazza Anselmi

Visitors to Giusvalla may be surprised by the quiet rusticity of the little village they encounter. To reach Giusvalla from any direction, one must travel through areas of dense forest that open to areas of vast green countryside among the hills. The occasional stone farmhouses, most in various stages of dilapidation, leave no doubt about Giusvalla’s purely agrarian past. The main road by which one arrives at the tiny centro storico of Giusvalla is the strada provinciale (provincial road 542). If you enter from the west (from Dego) you are welcomed to the center of Giusvalla by the unforgettable sight of the twin rows of twisted and gnarled locust trees that line the strada .... “zû dar gazìe.” According to tradition, the trees were planted by the French who occupied Giusvalla during the first Napoleonic campaign in the late 1790s.

The tiny center of Giusvalla is composed of little more than the parish church of San Maté and the little town hall. Across from the town hall is a modern looking one-story structure that was built as the community center “la Croce Bianca” in the early 1990s. There is a small memorial with the names of the men from Giusvalla who fought in the First and Second World Wars, then just a bit further down the strada one reaches the Piazza Anselmi which boasts a small produce shop and the Cavallo Bianco restaurant. After one passes the brief outcropping of buildings that comprise the tiny “center” of Giusvalla, the strada almost immediately disappears again into the countryside as one makes their way past località Perroni and on to the town of Pontinvrea.

The “Piazza Anselmi” was so named after a Giusvalla native named Pio Felice Anselmi (1819-1869), who fought for Italian independence and unification under Giuseppe Garibaldi, and his brother Don Giovanni Battista Anselmi (1802-1885), who was the pastor of the church of San Maté in Giusvalla for many years. The Anselmi family came to Giusvalla in 1764 from a town in Piemonte called Strevi. On July 11th of that year, brothers Giuseppe and Michele Anselmi of Strevi leased the mill owned by Antonio Maria Buschiazzo at località Mulino in Giusvalla. The mill and the attached property were gradually acquired by the descendants of the Anselmi family, and remained in the family until the late 19th century when it was leased to the Zunino brothers.

A small handful of descendants of the Anselmi family remain in Giusvalla and the surrounding towns, though none carry the family name, and many descendants now live in South America and France. I am proud to be related to the Anselmi family through both of my paternal grandparents.

In the picture: View of the center of Giusvalla and the Piazza Anselmi, circa 1945

Monday, July 12, 2010

I fiëj ‘d Pietrìn ur Palardèn

Judging from his straninome alone, it appears my ancestor Pietro Perrone “Palardèn” must have been someone of great respect in Giusvalla. Whatever specific actions warranted him that fine nickname have been lost to time, but it’s apparent from other sources that Pietro was someone who was trusted and relied upon by his fellow Giusvallìn. His name appears over and over among the town records, as arbitrator, town councilman and witness to various important documents. As a respected town elder, he was appointed mayor of Giusvalla in the 1830s. He is also recorded throughout the church records of San Matè, it is apparent that he was an active and faithful parishioner.

Pietro was born in Giusvalla in 1773 and was a son of Gaspare Perrone and Caterina Scarrone. He is called “contadino” (farmer) on the early records, as the eldest son he inherited the farm on the family homestead at ra Collà. Pietro married Angela Maria Caterina Doglio in 1799 and became the father of ten children and through them, the scion of one of the largest Perrone families in Giusvalla …. quite a feat when you consider that each of the many brichi ed Giusvalla had their own Perrone clan. By the time of his death in 1855, he is called “possidente” (wealthy); it is evident that Pietro “Palardèn” lived a fruitful and industrious life.

Pietro’s eldest son, Gaspare Perrone “Gashpèn ‘d Palardèn,” inherited the family farm at ra Collà, he followed in his father’s footsteps and married a local girl, Margherita Baccino, with whom he had a large brood of ten children of his own. Catasti records indicate that Gaspare made certain improvements to his father’s farm at ra Collà, and that the farm included a respectable number of livestock (an indication of prosperity in oft-impoverished Giusvalla). Several of Gaspare’s children were among the first waves of Giusvallini immigrants to South America. In fact, later in life, Gaspare accompanied his daughter Adelaide and her family to Montevideo, Uruguay, where he died in 1876 at the age of 76.

Following in the tradition, Gaspare’s eldest son Lorenzo Antonio Perrone remained on the family farm at ra Collà, where he honored the other tradition of having a large family. Lorenzo and his wife, Maria Luigia Perrone (from the Perrone family “dei Galletti”) had nine children, including my 2nd great-grandmother, Maria Caterina “Marinìn.”

Our “mùma granda” Marinìn never came to the United States, but her son Francesco “Franceschèn” Rosaio did, and so did her brother Antonio Perrone. Both my great-grandfather Rosaio and his uncle “Borba Tunèn” initially worked for the DuPont family; my great-grandfather in the powder mills and Borba Tunèn as a carpenter and stone mason in the Hagley yard. By 1917, my great-grandfather was in the mushroom business on his own farm on Ebright Road (and had married a girl from yet another Perrone family of Giusvalla – Caterina Perrone “Catarinìn ‘d Piedrinìn”).

After the powder mills closed, Borba Tunèn went to work as a stonemason on the Henry F. DuPont estate at Winterthur. But he deserves a story of his own.

In the picture: The road to località Collà, ancestral home of my Perrone ancestors - ch’è balli ch’j sun i brichi ed Giusvalla!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Winterthur 2010 Attendance List

As many already know, "Proud To Be Italian" day at Winterthur turned out to be a huge success. Frank and I (as well as the staff at Winterthur) were very pleased with all who'd taken the time out of their already short-and-packed weekend agendas, to come and see all that we'd worked to put together.

In the midst of the event, my mother, Marianne (Salvo) Brady, thought it might be a good idea to place a "sign-in" sheet on the exhibit display table, to help in capturing the names of some of the many who'd come out to Winterthur for the day. After finding out about what she had done, I was so happy to see that my mother had taken the initiative to do this. There were so many people present for the event whom I'd never met before, and I feel that this list really helped in being able to capture a glimpse of the many who helped in making this event so memorable.

Although these sheets do not include all of the individuals who came out that day, I wanted to pay tribute to those who had taken the time to jot their names down for us. Hopefully after you signed, you were able to get a piece of the Torrone too! (click on the image to see it in enlarged form)

Life at Vicari

Up the winding road about a mile past his father’s farm at Barbiella, my great-grandfather Rosaio would have arrived at ra ca deŕ Vicoŕi (località Vicari) and the home of the Buschiazzo family. In those days, it was common for young adults – and even children – to leave the family home to go to work on the farm of a neighboring family. The work was generally unpaid, but it alleviated the burden on the family when children could be sent to live with a neighboring family, where they would “earn their keep” by helping out on the farm. Times were much different in the days of our grandparents and great-grandparents; families did whatever was necessary to survive. My great-grandfather went to work on the farm at Vicari as a young boy.

Località Vicari is located northwest of the center of Giusvalla – the farm would have consisted of perhaps two cleared acres among the heavily forested hills. The road that led from the “strada provinciale” to Vicari was dirt (it still is today), one would pass the small farm and the Ca’d Tunòn at Barbiella to the right while making the way to Vicari. My great-grandfather’s father Tunòn was considered extremely fortunate, his farm at Barbiella included “duj bùi” – two large steer – so he did not have to till the rocky soil of his farm by hand. I bùi ‘d Tunòn came to him by way of a tumultuous agreement he reached with his brother Gianòn in settling their late father’s estate – Tunòn got the steer and Gianòn got the small house off the main road. It is said that Tunòn got the better end of that deal.

Like all the farms in Giusvalla, the Buschiazzo farm at Vicari was modest and hardscrabble. The small family home was a field stone and wood beam structure – one level – consisting of a kitchen and perhaps two bedrooms. There may have been a tiny root cellar or cold shed beneath the house. There was of course, no running water – it was taken from a nearby spring or stream. There was a small stone barn where the cow, pig and goat were kept – if the family was fortunate enough to have them. This is where my great-grandfather and any other farm hands would have slept as well. The Buschiazzo house maid, Lucia Ancili, would have slept in the main house, probably in the kitchen.

The main crops in Giusvalla at the time were granturco (corn) and fieno (hay). My great-grandfather helped with the tilling of the fields – the Buschiazzo family did not have any “bùi” so this was done by hand – then the planting and harvesting. The family also kept a garden, fruit trees and of course the beloved “cashtagne.” The families in Giusvalla tried their best to preserve enough of the harvest to last through the long and cold winters there. This was not an easy task. If the family was lucky enough to have a pig, it would be slaughtered near harvest time and the meat would be cured or made into sotìzza and stored in the cold shed. Every bit of the pig was utilized in some way, they wasted nothing. The men would hunt wild boar and deer in the abundant boschi throughout Giusvalla in order to help put a little meat on the table. Portabello and porcini mushrooms would have been another staple, harvested throughout the summer in Giusvalla’s abundant forests and dried in the sun to preserve them for future use. Many a meal would have been made of polenta with mushrooms. If the harvest was bad, or there was no pig that year, or the winter lingered a bit too long – or the family did not prepare adequately – they were in trouble. Malnourishment and even starvation was not uncommon.

It was a terribly difficult existence, but in the midst of it was life and love and friendship. In between the daily chores, my great-grandfather would have enjoyed a few minutes with his friends GioBatta Buschiazzo and Lucia Ancili. GioBatta left the farm at Vicari as a young man, he came to the United States and went to work for the DuPont family in the powder mills. He went back and forth from Italy to the U.S. a couple times over the years before returning permanently to take over the family farm at Vicari. He died there in 1963.

Little Lucia Ancili – like my great-grandfather – went to work on the farm at Vicari as a young girl. She worked in the main house and would have been responsible (among other things) for helping in the kitchen, the washing, the garden – and even the harvest, when everyone came out of the house to help in the fields. When Lucia came to the U.S. in 1912, she went to live with my great-grandfather Rosaio (who came in 1910). She never married and had developed tuberculosis and a deformity on her upper spine, my great-grandfather cared for Lucia until she passed away within a couple years of her arrival here in the U.S.

Life presented new challenges here in America, but a background of hard work and perseverance in Giusvalla prepared our grandparents and great-grandparents for anything. They worked hard and pushed forward, they became Americans and were proud to be here. My great-grandfather came here as a young man and within a few years was running his own farm of over 100 acres. I wonder what he dreamed about after those long days tilling the rocky fields at Vicari – could he have ever imagined the opportunities that lay ahead in America?

In the picture: View of the abandoned remains of ra ca’d Tunòn at Barbiella, from the road to Vicari.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Il buon dottore Bigatti

Dr. Ottaviano Bigatti and his wife Laura Pane came to Giusvalla near the end of the 19th century from Piemonte. For a tiny village like Giusvalla, it was a rare blessing to have an experienced doctor like Dr. Bigatti in their midst. The Bigatti family settled into their new home at No. 30 Via Montenotte, right along the modest Piazza Anselmi. The property included a private garden and a separate kitchen and cold shed, and the first floor of the two story house was used as the office and examination room of Dr. Bigatti. The house was one room deep, so as you entered the small central foyer on the first floor there was a room on either side, and a winding staircase that led to a second floor landing, with a bedroom on each side. It was considered an extremely comfortable home in comparison to the rustic farms and shacks that dotted the countryside.

In spite of his reported enthusiasm for vino rosso, Dr. Bigatti was said to be a first rate doctor and surgeon. His services were highly sought throughout Giusvalla and the surrounding towns, it is said he would travel through the worst snow storm to call on his patients who required medical attention. Dr. Bigatti’s wife, “ra Madama” Laura, became the maestra at the little schoolhouse in Giusvalla. The Bigattis had two children: son, Gino, who became a chemist and daughter, Giovanna, who took her mother’s place as the maestra at the school in Giusvalla – a career that she held for almost her entire life and whose students still remember her fondly. Both the Bigatti children lived as adults with their parents and never married. The Bigatti household also included the girls that the doctor employed to help with the housework and cooking – Marì dei Ninoni and Carmelina della Casùrera. Marì worked for the Bigatti family until she married her husband Gianèn and moved to Taranco and Carmelina remained in the services of the family right up until the doctor’s death.

After the death of Dr. Bigatti, his house was purchased by the family of my cousin Enzo – the old examination room was converted to a kitchen and his office was made into a living room. Dr. Bigatti bequeathed his beloved maid Carmelina a small apartment that adjoined the main house. Her daughter Emma continues to live in the apartment today, with her daughter Giovanna and granddaughter Simona.

The Bigatti family – Dr. Ottaviano, Madama Laura, Gino the chemist and Maestra Giovanna – are all now just another memory in Giusvalla lore. They rest together in the little cemetery in Giusvalla.

In the photo: il dottore Ottaviano Bigatti and his house

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ra feshta d’ur papà

One of my earliest memories is walking out of a restaurant with my father - I was perhaps three or four years old at the time - and Dad hoisting me into his arms to show me a map of Italy that hung on the wall. I remember Dad’s finger tracing up the coastline on the map, “Giusvalla is …. here. This is where we came from” was his simple explanation.

It was always the same with Dad, there was always some family story, a memory from his own childhood …. and he often spoke of his grandparents’ hometown …. Giusvalla. Perhaps without him even realizing it, his own love for the place inspired the same in his son.

I proudly carry my Giusvalla surname, not just because of a personal affinity for the town and our history there, but moreover out of deep admiration for those who carried it before me. It was Dad who taught me to be proud of these things. More than anything I am just proud to be his son.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad …. at vüj tanc bèn … turnumma a Gişvàla prash!

In the picture: ur papà e pcit Franceschèn, July 4, 1975.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Giusvalla godparents …. through the generations

Like many others from an Italian-American household, I grew up in a family where godparents were a very important part of our lives, we were all proud of our godparents and family conversations often included godparent acknowledgements such as “Aunt So-and-So was such a special lady. She was my godmother you know ….” My godparents were my Uncle Frank and my Aunt Marina (both siblings of my father). Aunt Marina has always referred to me as her “Nephew-Godson,” growing up I had a special bond with her because she is my godmother.

The selection of the godparents was always a serious and deliberate matter, whom do we deem most worthy to bequeath the spiritual well-being of our children? The christening day was a time of great celebration and tradition. In my family, it has become a great honor to pass down the christening gown that has now been worn by grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. On the day of my son's christening, his godfather (my cousin Enzo) resurrected the old Giusvalla tradition of the father's and godfather's shave (with the obligatory straight razor). It was Enzo's grandfather Bastianèn who was responsible for performing this rite on all the new fathers and godfathers in Giusvalla. We were proud to carry this tradition into the next generation.

Our godparents can perhaps be considered our “spiritual” ancestors, certainly they played an important role in our families throughout the generations. In my genealogical research, whenever possible I always try to document the names of the godparents. This is accomplished by consulting ecclesiastical records, where godparents’ names are listed (on the baptismal acts, for example). Following is my “Godparent Tree,” showing the godparents for several generations of my direct paternal family line.

My Son
Godfather: Cousin Enzo
Godmother: Aunt Angela
Me (Frank)
Godfather: Frank Rosaio
Godmother: Marina Rosaio
My father (Michael)
Godfather: Ernest Camoirano
Godmother: Gloria (Faenza) Malatesta
My grandfather (Frank)
Godfather: Giuseppe Camoirano
Godmother: Elsie Perrone
My great-grandfather (Francesco)
Godfather: Gaspare Perrone
Godmother: Maria Teresa Manzino
My great-great grandfather (Giacomo Antonio)
Godfather: Giacomo Beltrame
Godmother: Gioanna (Verdino) Baccino
My gr-gr-gr grandfather (Gioanni Antonio)
Godfather: Giovanni Antonio Bonifacino
Godmother: Angela (wife of Giovanni Antonio Bonifacino)

In the picture: Christening Day, May 16, 1974, with godparents Uncle Frank & Aunt Marina

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On This Day in 1939.

On this day back in 1939 (it was a Thursday that year), Marian Theresa Ghione took Ernest Salvo to be her lawfully-wedded husband, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death did they part.

Their Honeymoon took them to New York, where the infamous World’s Fair was underway. While up in that part of the Country, they visited the Fair, and made other stops as well, one being at Niagra Falls.

A year later, they would have their first child together, a son (Ernest J.). And shortly after that, 2 more children followed (Paul and Marianne). Their family of 5 shared many years of happiness together.

Today would be their 71st wedding anniversary, which comes just after a weekend-honorarium to both them, and their families, at the Winterthur museum in DE.

Although both of them have since passed on (Marian on April 8, 1968, Ernest on June 12, 1982), we have faith that they were re-joined after death and are now together in Heaven.

Felice Anniversario, Grandmom e Grandpop……………………………

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Celebrate Being Italian With Winterthur on Sunday, June 13th

This coming Sunday, June 13th, Winterthur will be having a "Celebrate Being Italian" day from 10AM until 5PM. Frank Rosaio and I will be on-site to share our knowledge and family histories, some special Italian items will be offered on the Winterthur café menu and many other surprises await as well! And don't forget, the Lost Gardens of the Brandywine exhibit is still on display (through July 25th).

For more information, click on the image attached with this post, or visit

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ra pórta ‘d ra Lalla Pina

The story of “Grandmom’s doors” has been told and retold in my family hundreds of times over the past almost 50 years. Even the extended family and cousins still talk about those doors. The story goes like this ….

On one of her visits back home to Giusvalla, Grandmom Rosaio noticed the doors in the vestibule of the church were in terrible condition. Grandmom went to her nephew Piciòn (Lorenzo Perrone) and asked him why the doors hadn’t been fixed, and he told her that the church didn’t have the money to pay for repairs. The next Sunday after Mass, Grandmom walked right up to the pastor and told him that she wanted to pay for new doors to be installed. She gave him the donation for the doors, and he promised that they would be put up very soon. Piciòn made sure that Grandmom was recognized for her generous donation, and to this day 47 years later there is a plaque above the vestibule doors that reads "Dono di Giuseppina Pesce" (Gift of Josephine Pesce). The beautiful glass and wood doors remain in perfect condition to this day.

“Grandmom’s doors” have become a favorite destination for her visiting descendants over the years, several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren have stood in front of those doors and smiled proudly for the camera. And lest any of us forget, her great-nieces and nephews in Giusvalla still eagerly point up to the bronze plaque that bears her name and tell the story of ra pórta ‘d ra Lalla Pina ….

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watching TV With Grandpop Salvo: “Lawrence Welk”

I have some great TV memories from growing up during the late 70s and early 80s: CHiPs, Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk, so many great shows on during that time. But there’s one show that I would catch during those days, that I never thought would pique my interest some 30 years later…

I remember many times, especially on weekends, our TV’s being tuned into a little musical program known as………. “The Lawrence Welk Show”. I would watch in confusion as my Grandpop Salvo sat and absorbed this program, usually his one leg crossed over the other, and the upper foot tapping mildly in the air to the beat of the songs. During my time of these memories, disco music was on its way out, and pop music (later just to be known at “80’s music”) was quickly rolling in. But none of the songs I was hearing on the radio ever seemed to make it to this program- and even weirder, the women always seemed to be wearing these draping, heavenly-like gowns. It didn’t matter what song was being sung, or which singer was singing it. They were all dressed the same way, and the style of dress that they were wearing I never seemed to see worn anywhere else in my life.

Grandpop always liked watching that show, but after he passed in 1982, it’s sad to say that I don’t remember seeing that program on as much on our TV’s. I’m sure my mother watched it on occasion, but the number of times that it would be on in our home after that year definitely diminished.

That time in my life, and especially that show, prompted an ongoing joke for my sister and I. If someone ever made mention of Lawrence Welk, we would (and still do today) be quick to shout out, “CUE THE BUBBLES!!!”

It wasn’t until I got older that I would fully understand why Grandpop Salvo enjoyed that program as much as he did: The music was light, yet happy. The singers weren’t being chased every day by People and Star magazines, their personal lives to be exploited to no end. There were familiar instruments in the program’s requiem, specifically accordions and clarinets. And most of all, the audience was always of a “more mature” age bracket, still smiling and enjoying life. Welk’s mode of operation was simple, and it worked out perfectly. He was able to target people who lived their lives just as simply, one being my grandfather.

This past weekend, a special program aired on MPT titled “Lawrence Welk – Milestones and Memories”. I had to sit and watch it. Not for the music, and not to see how much the original cast members had aged... But for Grandpop Salvo. I could almost see his foot happily tapping once again..

Monday, May 3, 2010

Perrone dell’avvocato

Giusvalla’s resident noble family was “Perrone dell’avvocato” - no relation to the various other Perrone families of Giusvalla. Though not technically of aristocratic stock, these Perrones were locally quite influential since the 16th century and married into other socially prominent families from Savona and Genoa. They became lawyers, judges, notaries and acted in various official capacities in town affairs. The younger Perrone sons pursued vocations in the Church. Rev. Michele Antonio Perrone served as pastor in Giusvalla’s parish church of San Matteo for many years until his death on March 14, 1803. Don Perrone had a natural interest in history and it is said that he compiled a 1000 page account of the genealogies of all the families in Giusvalla. Unfortunately for us, it seems Don Perrone’s research of the families in his parish has been lost to time.

Michele Perrone was just one of several descendants of this family to tend to the ecclesiastical needs of the flock in Giusvalla. Don Perrone's nephews Francesco Antonio and GioBatta Perrone served the parish in Giusvalla for many years during the early 19th century.

Rev. Angelo Perrone was born in Giusvalla on November 2, 1874 and was a son of Gerolamo Perrone and Angela Sambolino. He was ordained in the diocese of Acqui and was sent to the United States to serve the diocese of Chicago. He arrived at Ellis Island on October 24, 1911 aboard the “Rochambeau.” In 1923, Rev. Perrone was transferred to the diocese of Scranton (Pennsylvania) to serve as pastor of the Italian parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carbondale, where he became a much beloved spiritual leader and friend to the families there.

Rev. Perrone died suddenly on March 16, 1927 at St. Joseph’s hospital in Carbondale after an operation to remove his appendix. He was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Carbondale on March 21. Rev. Perrone left a sizeable estate, which included a bequest to the town of Giusvalla with instructions that a kindergarten be built there and directed by the Sisters of the diocese of Acqui. Rev. Angelo Perrone is the only known descendant of the “nobile stirpe” of the Perrone family to come to the United States.

Like many local families, by the 1950s the family “Perrone dell’avvocato” had all but disappeared from Giusvalla. Descendants had relocated permanently to Genoa and Milan. All that remains of Giusvalla’s noble family today is their family tomb in the little cemetery behind the church.

In the picture: Tomb of the noble Perrone family in the Giusvalla town cemetery.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bonifacino …. of Rocchetta di Cairo Montenotte

One of the first rules of good family history research is to avoid assumptions, preconceptions and unverified notions. At the forefront of this pitfall is the “surname game.” In this old genealogical blunder, the would-be family historian assumes that everyone with the same surname is automatically related to one another. Genealogy how-to books are replete with “what not to do” stories about those who make claims of a family relationship to a famous person with the same surname. One old favorite is the claim to be a “descendant” of George Washington. Of course, George Washington had no children, and therefore no descendants. Claims like this are pretty transparent and are easily disproven with minimal research.

Other times, researchers will simply assume that all people with the same last name share a common ancestor. For example, someone with the last name of Baccino or Tortarolo might assume that they are related to all people with that last name. Of course, those of us who are familiar with Giusvalla family history know better than this. Names like Baccino and Tortarolo are common throughout Giusvalla and the surrounding towns and nearby provinces. Even in a small town like Giusvalla, the Tortarolo family from località Taranco will quickly point out to you that they are not related to the Tortarolo family from down the road in località Prati Proia.

The bottom line is clear in all situations; genealogy basics (“Genealogy 101,” if you will) dictate that you do your research before you assume you are related to someone simply because they share your last name.

Recent research into the families of immigrants Luigi Bonifacino and his brother, Giuseppe Bonifacino, illustrates another facet of the name game: never assume that all people of the same surname are from the same place.

A couple incidental factors led me to erroneously assume that Luigi and Giuseppe Bonifacino were from Giusvalla. The first factor illustrates the ease with which we fall into Genealogy Pitfall #1: surname frequency. Bonifacino is a common surname in Giusvalla, and there was another family named Bonifacino that did come from Giusvalla to the U.S. The second factor was location (and association). When Luigi and Giuseppe Bonifacino came to the U.S., they went to work for the DuPont family in the powder mills. Giuseppe lived for awhile at Squirrel Run, and Luigi also lived for several years on the grounds of the powder mills. While working in the powder mills, Luigi and Giuseppe became associated with the families that came from Giusvalla, including the Bonifacino family of Giusvalla. Luigi even married as his first wife Giusvalla native Felicita Bonifacino.

And so, for many years, it went no further than that. It was a case of guilt by association. I ignored the fact that I had not one shred of evidence that Luigi and Giuseppe came from Giusvalla. I blithely continued to document the American descendants of these two men, assuming they were all part of our big Giusvalla family simply because their name was Bonifacino.

There was, however, something that I always wondered about. Not one person from the large families of Luigi and Giuseppe Bonifacino attended the “Tutti I Giusvallini” reunion in 1923. They are completely absent from the big picture of the Giusvalla immigrants that was taken at that reunion. How could this be?

A light went off last month when I was reviewing the birth records of the children of Giuseppe Bonifacino. On birth records from this era (late 19th through early 20th centuries), usually only the country of birth is listed for the parents. So, on the birth records of the children of Luigi and Giuseppe, their respective birthplaces are listed simply as “Italy.” Except for one. And on that birth record – remarkably - Giuseppe’s town of birth is listed. The record states that Giuseppe Bonifacino was born in “Rochetto Cairo” [sic, Rocchetta di Cairo Montenotte].

I already knew from their death records that Luigi and Giuseppe’s parents’ names were Giovanni Bonifacino and Rosa Santi. With this information, I was able to contact the diocesan archives in Acqui Terme and obtain a copy of the marriage record of Giovanni and Rosa. It states that on July 9, 1861, Rosa Santi of Cairo Montenotte, daughter of Luigi Santi and Teresa Berretta, married Giovanni Bonifacino of Rocchetta di Cairo Montenotte. Rose and Giovanni were married at the church of Sant’Andrea in Rocchetta di Cairo Montenotte.

Luigi and Giuseppe and their families were not at the 1923 “Tutti I Giusvallini” reunion because they weren’t from Giusvalla! Their presence at the powder mills however, was not merely incidental, because there were other families from Rocchetta di Cairo Montenotte living there as well (Ferraro, Sicco, Persoglio, etc.). Like the Giusvalla immigrants, Luigi and Giuseppe followed their friends and neighbors from their hometown in Italy to the DuPont powder mills.

Though I’m sorry to have to admit to myself that I fell for Genealogy Pitfall #1, I am grateful to know that the information on the families of Luigi and Giuseppe Bonifacino is now accurate and well-documented. And I relearned an important lesson about making assumptions, however logical they may seem.

In the picture: Birth Certificate of Louis Bonifacino (Delaware Public Archives).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Furtinèn ed Manzèn

My great-uncle Fortunato (Borba Furtinèn ed Manzèn) was one of Giusvalla’s most prominent citizens. He was very active throughout his entire life as a town consigliere, and on more than one occasion was elected mayor of Giusvalla.

Borba Furtinèn was born in Giusvalla on April 25, 1887. At the age of 18, like all young Giusvalla men from his era, Furtinèn joined the 1st regiment of the “Alpini.” After completing his required two years in the Italian army, he returned to Giusvalla and married. He and his wife Santina ran a little store that was attached to the front of their home on the Piazza Anselmi. They never had any children of their own, but became well known in the town as the people to go to whenever you needed help with something. Borba Furtinèn is referred to in my family lore as “l’uomo più buono del mondo.”

Furtinèn owned the first car in Giusvalla. With only tiny roads winding through the countryside, there wasn’t much room for him to make his way. A couple years later Carlo Ferraro (aka “Cide-yes”) bought a car and when the two would meet on the roads of Giusvalla, one of the drivers would have to backtrack until the other could find an area wide enough to pass!

A soft-spoken and gentle soul, Borba Furtinèn passed away quietly in Giusvalla on January 1, 1959. He is lovingly remembered by those who knew him.

In the picture: Lalla Santina and Borba Furtinèn, circa 1958.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ra Trifurina

My great-grandfather’s cousin Matté Perrone married in 1904 in Giusvalla to Caterina Ferruccio. Matté was born in Giusvalla in 1876 at località Dogli, one of the large brood of children of Pietro “l'plén” Perrone and his wife, Teresa Manzino. He was a quiet, gentle and extremely reserved man. Matté’s bride, Caterina, on the other hand, was full of fire and very strong willed. Because Matté was so reserved, he was content to let Caterina run the house. She made all the important decisions and because she became known as the head of the household, she was called “Ra Trifurina.”

Matté came to the U.S. in 1905 and went to work for the DuPont family in the powder mills. Shortly after his arrival, there was an explosion and Matté was seriously injured. Upon receiving word of her husband’s accident, Caterina immediately left Giusvalla - on her own - to come to the U.S. and take care of Matté. When Matté regained his strength, they both returned to Giusvalla and opened a little store near their home at Ca’d Gaspò.

“Ra Trifurina” became known in Giusvalla as a force to be reckoned with. She was a fierce and intimidating business woman, always demanding the best deal possible. All the while, she was a loving wife to Matté and a gentle mother to their brood of six children. When Ra Trifurina died in 1937, the house at Ca’d Gaspò quietly mourned the loss of their matriarch, however 73 years later her descendants and their cousins still repeat the stories of the fiery and lively Caterina “Ra Trifurina!” It seems she is not yet ready to be forgotten.

In the picture: Caterina Ferruccio, “Ra Trifurina”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Italian Magic: The Dandelion

This past weekend, I was happy to see that the Dandelions were starting to bloom. I ran out and dug up a bucketful, and took them into the house to start prepping them for salad. After I had them cleaned and ready to eat, I decided to call my mother to see if she would like to have some of the day’s “harvest”. To my surprise, she told me that she and my father were just finishing up their lunch. Included on their menu for the day was…….. Dandelion Salad! She’d beat me to it!

I remember as a boy, watching my Grandpop Salvo pick the Dandelions from our yard, and bring them into the house in either a pot or a colander. Eventually they would be washed and then “vanish”. I did not know for sure what was being done with these WEEDS (yes, the average American sees them as weeds unfortunately) once they were washed, but couldn’t help but wonder.

And then, one day I noticed that there was a different looking “salad” on the table during lunch, served in a glass bowl. I said “what is that??”, to which I was told………. “Dandelion Salad”. I can’t remember during my first experience seeing them, if they had hard-boiled eggs with them or not. But if it wasn’t during that initial time, it definitely was during a subsequent serving of them that I remember seeing them with hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes they would even include a mixture of what our family calls “chi chi’s” (chick peas or garbanzo beans). You can add this dish to the list of what I considered “A Menu for the Mentally Insane or Senile” at that time.

I have to reiterate that when my grandfather lived with us, I was a little boy. I was born in 1971, and he moved in with us in 1973. I’ve said it in previous posts here on the blog, but I’ll say it again now: growing up with my Grandpop Salvo around was sooooooooo different from what I would see at homes of friends who were my age. If I had lunch at a friend’s house at that time, the menu would include items like : peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs, or maybe even a piece of frozen pizza. I can tell you as I sit here typing this, that NEVER at that time did I walk into a friend’s house to have them say “oh hey my mom just put Dandelion Salad on the table- you want some??”

As I got older, I eventually tried them. It was something I could take or leave. With their slightly bitter, peppery taste, I wondered what damaged psyche would actually “enjoy” eating something of this nature. Not to mention the fact that I never recalled seeing anyone else on our street pulling stuff out of their yards and throwing it on the dinner table! It really makes you wonder as a child, what alternate dimension you’re living in when this stuff is going on every day in your house, and you KNOW it’s not happening at the places where your friends live.. And do you dare mention it to a friend, to see what they would say about it all? NO WAY. “Yeah, I might be living with aliens, but I’m not telling anyone else that! They won’t talk to me anymore!”

I did eventually ask my parents and grandfather why people would even eat these things. The reply that came back was the same that would be provided when things like escarole (pronounced “scuttle” in our home), turnips, broccoli rabe, and other strange veggies made their way to the table: “because it’s good for you”. That was it. “OK so if these things are so good for you, then why are we the only ones on our BLOCK eating them from our YARD”, I thought to myself.. But at that age, you don’t ask questions in that fashion, unless you want to find yourself unconscious.

Over Easter weekend, I told my wife’s grandmother (a native of San Pietro a Maida, Italy), that on the day prior, I’d been out gathering Dandelions for salad. I sat eagerly awaiting her reaction, as it’s the first time I think I’ve ever gotten to mention to her that our family eats them. Her 89-year old eyes suddenly widened, and she said with a smile, “YOU EAT DANDELION SALAD??!!”. I said yes, by all means. She told me that she’d not had them since she was a little girl. I told her the story that I have just recaptured here, and as I told it to her, she smiled the entire time. She too is from the age of my grandfather (who would have been 106 this year if he were still alive), so she always enjoys me telling her about the traditions I try my best to continue on from Grandpop Salvo’s family.

As many of our readers probably already know, the Dandelion truly is “good for you”, as I was taught decades ago. But why it’s good is for many reasons: it works as a natural diuretic, it purifies the blood, contains multiple vitamins, and even sustains the immune system. Funny how they never mention that on the Scott’s Turf Builder ads!

Buona Pasqua to all of our readers...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Pesce dei Giachi

The Pesce family can claim the largest number of descendants of any of the families that came to the United States from Giusvalla. This family was also unique among the Giusvalla immigrant families because all the grown Pesce siblings (with the exception of the oldest sister) came over to Squirrel Run, followed by their elderly parents – Paolo Rocco and Francesca (Becco) Pesce.

Paolo and Francesca had 8 children, 44 grandchildren and 68 great-grandchildren. Their progeny continue to flourish into the seventh generation now, with several great-great-great-great grandchildren having been born into the Pesce family! This is the story of their origins in Giusvalla.


In the middle of the 19th century, Giovanni Battista Pesce and his wife, Francesca Teresa Zunino, lived in a little neighborhood in Giusvalla called “Giachi.” Giachi is located down the road and up the hill from Cavanna (the homestead of the Bonifacino family), off the strada provinciale. Giachi is still very much an agricultural neighborhood amidst “i brichi ed Giusvalla”; if you visit today you will find Laura hard at work among her dairy cows.

Giovanni Battista had gone to Altare (a neighboring town of Giusvalla) and worked for several years in the famous glass making industry there before returning to the farm at Giachi, where he raised his family which included his son, Paolo Rocco and a daughter, Luigia.

Paolo Rocco Pesce was born on August 16, 1848 and married Francesca Becco on February 19, 1870. Francesca’s family came from a farm at località Taranco, just a short distance from Giachi. The Pesces were a tenant farmer family, they did not own their own farm, rather they rented the land they cultivated. When Paolo’s parents both died in 1894, there was no inheritance. Paolo and his young family continued to eek out a meager existence on the farm at Giachi, but life in Giusvalla was hard and soon his growing children began to look elsewhere for better opportunities.

And where better to find opportunity in the first decade of the 20th century than the “land of opportunity” …. America soon beckoned with its promises of a better life and financial stability. Paolo and Francesca’s eldest living son, GioBatta “John” Pesce was the first in the family to venture across the ocean to America. He arrived at Ellis Island on March 20, 1901 and listed his destination as Wilmington, Delaware. He arrived at the DuPont powder mills ready to work alongside the two or three fellow Giusvallini who were already there. GioBatta soon sent word home of the plentiful work available at the powder mills, and gradually his brothers, sisters and brothers-in-law began arriving. They all lived their first years in the United States in the Squirrel Run employee housing neighborhood on the grounds of the powder mills. With the exception of the eldest sister - whose entrepreneur husband preferred to keep his business ventures close to home - all the living Pesce siblings came to Squirrel Run. Their parents eventually joined them as well, Paolo and Francesca arrived at Ellis Island on April 12, 1910.

The children of Paolo Rocco & Francesca (Becco) Pesce were:

Francesca “Francìscha,” born in Giusvalla, Jan. 7, 1871; died in Giusvalla, Jul. 1, 1930. Married Jun. 15, 1886 in Giusvalla to Santino Salvo. They had six children.

Carolina, born in Giusvalla, Jul. 9, 1872; died in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Nov. 12, 1959. Married Feb. 4, 1890 in Giusvalla to Francesco Baccino. They had eight children.

Giuseppe Francesco GioBatta, born in Giusvalla, Jul. 11, 1874; died in Giusvalla, Apr. 13, 1894.

GioBatta “John,” born in Giusvalla, Feb. 17, 1878; died in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 10, 1911. Married Jul. 24, 1902 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Wilmington, to Maria Lucia Bonifacino. They had four children.

Vittorio “Gianèn,” born in Giusvalla, Mar. 22, 1882; died in Kennett Twp., Pennsylvania, Feb. 11, 1947. Married Jul. 11, 1903 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Wilmington, to Eugenia Baccino. They had seven children.

Carmelina, born in Giusvalla, Sep. 27, 1884; died in Wilmington, Delaware, Aug. 31, 1953. Married (1) Nov. 28, 1901 in Giusvalla to Casimiro Giovanni Carozzo and (2) Jan. 27, 1921 at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church, Henry Clay, Delaware to Giovanni Brondo. She had five children by her first husband and two children by her second husband.

Giuseppe “Pinén,” born in Giusvalla, Oct. 28, 1886; died in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Mar. 30, 1960. Married (1) Sep. 3, 1908 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Wilmington to Flaminia Giuseppina Briccotto and (2) Jan. 27, 1921 at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church, Henry Clay, Delaware to Adelaide Brondo. He had three children by his first wife and three children by his second wife.

Giuseppina “Pina,” born in Giusvalla, Jul. 23, 1891; died in Newark, Delaware, Nov. 6, 1989. Married (1) Oct. 5, 1911 at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church to Giovanni Battista Perrone and (2) Aug. 15, 1927 at Christ Our King Church, Wilmington, Delaware to Francesco Rosaio. She had five children by her first husband and one child by her second husband.

In the picture: My great-great grandparents, Paolo Rocco & Francesca (Becco) Pesce, circa 1915.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tartaglia the Midwife

Dedicated with love to my grandmother, Rita Rosaio, the strongest woman I know

I’ve often wondered what day-to-day life must have been like for our great-grandparents. My great-grandmother was always quick to remind us that she worked as hard as her husband to provide for her family. There was the work on the farm and at the farmer’s market in Wilmington, but also a hundred things around the house to keep my great-grandmother busy. The Italian families at Squirrel Run were generally quite large, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were up early in the morning getting the children their breakfast and sending them off to school. The chores that followed must have seemed endless, everything was to be done by hand as there were no washing machines, dishwashers or vacuum cleaners at Squirrel Run. In addition, many of our great-grandmothers kept boarders, took in laundry or worked in varying domestic capacities for the DuPonts and other affluent families in the area.

In the early years at Squirrel Run, it wasn’t a doctor that was called in when a new baby was due to arrive - it was Tartaglia the Midwife. Maria Tartaglia delivered many of the little Giusvallini babies that were born during the early years at Squirrel Run. Like the women whose babies she delivered, Maria was a native of Italy. She was born May 30, 1885 in the town of Lama dei Peligni, which is located in the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy. When she was about 12 years old, Maria’s family immigrated to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where she lived for six or seven years until the family came to the United States in April, 1903. The Tartaglia family settled in Wilmington’s Little Italy, and she became well-known in the area as a midwife to many of the local Italian women. In 1907, Maria married Lama dei Peligni native Antonio DiBenedetto and by him she had several children. As her own large family continued to grow, Maria was gradually unable to continue her services as a midwife and the good Dr. Meredith Iver Samuel took her place tending the childbearing needs of the Italian women at Squirrel Run.

Maria (Tartaglia) DiBenedetto lived a long life among the Italian community she had served as a young woman in Wilmington, she died on January 9, 1978 at the age of 92 years. It is noteworthy that the hands of a strong Italian woman brought the first generation of Giusvallini-Americani into the world. We gratefully remember Tartaglia the Midwife, and all our brave Italian grandmothers and great-grandmothers, whose struggles only made them stronger.

In the picture: My great-grandmother, Giuseppina (Pesce) (Perrone) Rosaio and her daughters, Elsie (b. 1915) and Anne (b. 1918).

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Rumèni ed Gišvala - The Romanians of Giusvalla

I have often been asked - incredulously, what is this about Romanians in Giusvalla? I suppose it seems difficult to accept that our little ancestral hometown could be anything but completely “Italian,” demographically as well as culturally. The truth may surprise you. Allow me to explain.

Giusvalla has always been a tiny little town, the population peaked at around 1,200 souls during the early 19th century. Emigration to South America began in the mid 19th century and continued in full force for nearly one hundred years. Around 1900 the birth rate began to plummet. Giusvalla lost another large portion of the population to the United States from around 1900-1920. By the 1980s, there was just a scattering of less than 300 people left living in Giusvalla. The younger generation had all but moved out to the bigger cities to pursue better opportunities. Those who remained clung desperately to family farms, and the already rustic landscape of Giusvalla began taking on the appearance of an impoverished, hardscrabble ghost town in the wilderness as abandoned, centuries old farmhouses began to collapse due to neglect.

With no local industry and an increasing abandonment of the agrarian lifestyle in northern Italy, the situation seemed hopeless. In spite of the spartan conditions, the price of real estate in Giusvalla continued to sky rocket – further incentive for the natives to “sell” to real estate speculators and move on to better prospects. By the early 1990s, with no new students enrolled in Giusvalla’s little school (and the little school at Cavanna already closed), the town prepared to close the doors to the schoolhouse forever.

No one could have predicted that things were about to change when Giusvalla native Elio Rizzo moved home from Tuscany in 1994 with his new Romanian bride Luminita. What happened then was remarkable. The following year, Luminita’s brother arrived in Giusvalla to visit. He immediately felt at home among the rocky hills and forests of the little village, and decided to stay. Then cousins from Romania began to arrive, then friends and neighbors. Soon the Giusvalla white pages contained family names like Burca, Tuduca, Vasile and Cornel alongside the dwindling number of Baccinos and Bonifacinos. Like other new immigrant groups who come from an inpoverished agricultural background and don’t speak the local language, the Romanians began taking the jobs the Giusvallini had abandoned, working as laborers, factory workers (at the bottling plant in Cairo Montenotte), housekeepers and caretakers for the elderly. There was life again in the abandoned homes "i Rumèni" rented from the now absent Giusvallini. The school in Giusvalla was saved from extinction as they began enrolling Romanian children.

For the first time in nearly 150 years, Giusvalla’s population began to climb again, with approximately 10-12 new Romanians arriving every year. There are now over 400 people living in Giusvalla, of which approximately 30% are Romanian natives. There are also now a significant number of non-Giusvalla native Italians living in Giusvalla, as well as Germans, Swiss, Greeks and even Moroccans, who have purchased some of the old crumbling farm houses and restored them into elegant weekend and summer retreats.

The handful of remaining Giusvalla natives have lovingly embraced their new neighbors as the future of their town. The Giusvalla of today is a much different place than it was just 15 years ago, when Elio Rizzo arrived with his foreign bride, however our little ancestral village has sustained itself and assured its survival in the same way it always has …. through perseverance and an unwavering openness to change.

In the picture: Once largely abandoned and in a state of neglect, località Taranco, is now the home of several Romanian families in Giusvalla.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Life Before Squirrel Run

Although many of our ancestors came here as children, there were still others who were already adults, or, were on their way into adulthood at the time that they came to America. One such example was my great grandfather, Giuseppe Ghione.

He and his wife Teresa (Reggio) Ghione came to America in March of 1912, and arrived to Squirrel Run shortly thereafter. However, in Italy at that time, all young men were required to serve in the Country’s military for a term upon reaching the age of 18. My great-grandfather turned 18 in 1904. For his military service, he was what was known as a “bersaglieri”, or sharpshooter. The above photo shows Giuseppe wearing his official bersaglieri uniform.

The bottom of the photo indicates that it was taken at the E. DINA photography studio in Milan, Italy.

This photo is a great contribution by my cousin, Rich Ghione. As one can imagine, it is a very special piece of our family history. And thanks to Rich and his family who kept it in tact for all of these years, we are able to display the image here for our readers to appreciate as well.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Save the Dates! Upcoming Giusvalla and Squirrel Run Related Events at Winterthur

St. Anthony's Day, Sunday, June 13, 2010

Last day of the Wilmington Italian Festival, Winterthur Museum invites you to participate in their Proud to be Italian Day.

$5 discount off the price of general admission to anyone who holds a ticket to the Italian festival or says they are "Proud to be Italian."

This offer is made in conjunction with the March 27-July 25 Exhibition:

Lost Gardens of the Brandywine

In the 1920s and 30s, the Wilmington area became known as one of the centers of horticulture in the United States. Italian gardeners were an essential component to the high quality of the gardens. Unlike the owners or designers, staff contributions to individual gardens were largely unacknowledged and are now mostly forgotten.

At Winterthur for example, no family except the du Ponts had as much of an impact as the Felicianis, three generations of whom have helped shape the landscape. Joseph Feliciani, born in Italy, began at Winterthur as a gardener in the 1920s. His father-in-law, Abraham Ragazzo, worked on what was known as the Bull Gang, building the roads of the estate. In the 1930s Joseph and his son, Albert, were among the hundreds turning Winterthur into one of the premier naturalistic gardens of the world.

A surprising number of the gardeners were from the town of Giusvalla, in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. Many of the men worked at the DuPont Gunpowder Mills on the Brandywine and on various du Pont estates as gardeners in the early 20th century. Some went on to be mushroom farmers as well. The community remains active to this day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

“See that wall over there? Your [ ] helped with it ………”

Your esteemed blog hosts recently discussed together the number of people they’ve run into over the years, who remember hearing the above statement told to them by a loved one regarding the wall surrounding A.I. duPont Children’s Hospital.

When Jim first heard those words spoken, he and his family were either on the way to visit relatives in Montchanin or off to a dentist checkup with Dr. Selvaggi at the Lombardy Center on Foulk Road. Whatever prompted his parents to tell him the story of the wall, Jim’s never forgotten it. Perhaps it was because of knowing that one of his family members had actually helped “build” it that it stayed with him. Or maybe it was simply etched into his psyche, because he could not understand why a wall would be topped with so many shards of broken glass.

Jim’s earliest memory of being told about the wall actually comes from his mother. During one of the trips mentioned above, he remembers the wall being pointed out to him, and being told that his Great-Great Uncle, Teodoro ‘Doro’ Piuma, had been a part of setting the shards of glass on top of it. He also recently learned that his great-grandfather, John "Mutèn" Salvo also helped in the building of the wall. Jim can’t remember now if he was told during that initial time that the glass-topped wall was constructed to keep people ‘out’ of the DuPont property, or if it was to actually help keep some individuals ‘in’ on the grounds. Since that time, he has actually heard stories that reflect both possibilities.

When Jim and Frank first began corresponding a few months ago, they exchanged many of the area stories they’d both heard over the years. As one could expect, the story regarding the wall came up. Frank remembers hearing the various rumors concerning the reasons for the foreboding, jagged shards of multi-colored glass atop the thick, stone walls surrounding the Nemours estate. He also recalled the stories that old Alfred I. duPont had the glass put there to keep his unwanted relatives out; and that yet others said it was to keep certain relatives “in.” Other theories that were knocking around verged on the outrageous – i.e., the DuPonts were part of a secret Masonic order and the wall was constructed to keep their various rites and rituals “top secret.”

It turns out, however, that the truth about the glass-topped walls was far less fantastic; they were constructed in the fashion of the walls surrounding other famous estates in the DuPont family's ancestral province in France. So much for family feuds and magical rituals.

In the Summer of 2009, Jim was reconnected with his cousin Rich Ghione. Time, careers, and moves to different areas over the years caused their families to lose touch. Jim was so happy when he was able to get back in contact with Rich. Since there was a lot of catching up to do, the cousins naturally talked a lot on phone and via email, and also shared a large variety of family photos with one another. At one point while Squirrel Run was being discussed, out of nowhere Rich says, “…well you know that wall around AI? The Ferraro family helped build it.” Jim just laughed to himself, since there had been so many different times in his life when he’d heard others mention a similar story. It would include the wall, but about another friend of the family or loved one whom they knew. Jim’s reply of course to Rich was “well I didn’t know about the Ferraros building it, but I know your Uncle Ernie’s uncle helped put the glass on the top!” It was another great moment in the reunion of members in the family, as Rich had never recalled being told that before. Jim believes that for as many stones as there are in that wall, there are an equal number of us out there who have heard about someone being a part of building it. And for him it makes that wall all the more special.

It is an honor for both Jim and Frank to know, whenever driving through the Montchanin/Hagley/St. Joe’s area, that so many members of their families were involved with the variety of different projects that took place in that area so long ago. It is a real privilege to drive through there almost 100 years after the fact, and to still see so many things that their ancestors helped erect and/or maintain. If money was no object, there is a large part of both of them who would really like to live and/or work in that area today, just to continue the “living presence” of their family heritage there.

As we mark the recent centennial anniversary of Nemours, it is an appropriate time to reflect upon those who participated in the construction of this great estate, and the curious wall that surrounds it. It is known for certain that the Piuma, Salvo, Ferraro, and Olivieri families helped build the wall- but several other Squirrel Run men were undoubtedly there too.

If you have any stories about family members who participated in the construction of this great old wall, please email Frank or Jim, we’d love to hear about it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Our Grandfather(s)

In loving memory of our grandfather, Frank John Rosaio, Jr., on his 80th birthday.

Though we never knew you, we carry you always in our hearts. You are the angel that watches over us, the spirit that guides us and the grandfather that inspires us. You left us the sweetest of grandmothers and gave us the best of parents. We your grandchildren honor your memory proudly on this your 80th birthday.

We love you and miss you …. at vüj bèn noshtr cör papà grande, t’ammanchi tanci.

And to the Salvo family lineage, this posting also honors Ernest Salvo, whose birthday was on February 24th (just yesterday). He is still in our minds and hearts daily as well.

In the picture: Frank J. Rosaio, Jr. (left) & Ernest P. Salvo (right)

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Perrone ed Piedrinìn

My great-grandparents were brother and sister-in-law. How is this possible, you might ask? Well, my great-grandfather’s 1st wife was a sister of my great-grandmother’s 1st husband. So for the 16 years before they were married to one another, my great-grandparents were related by marriage because their spouses were siblings. They had both married into the Perrone family, more specifically “i Perrone ed Piedrinìn.”

Many of the Giusvallini families of Squirrel Run tie into this family by blood or marriage. This is the beginning of their story in America.

The patriarch of this family was Giacomo Paolino “Piedrinìn” Perrone, born in Giusvalla in 1851 and married there on November 17, 1873 to a young orphan named Pasqualina Maria Trento. Four of the five children born to Giacomo and Pasqualina came to Squirrel Run, then as an old man Giacomo himself came to the United States to live out his last years. The children of Giacomo and Pasqualina were:

Maria Teresa, born in Giusvalla in 1875, she married Giovanni Piovano and died in Toulon, France on October 16, 1905. She had two children: Baptistin & Mario.

Caterina “Catarinìn” (Katie), born in Giusvalla in 1879, she worked as a dressmaker in Toulon, France for a couple years with her sister Paolina before coming to the United States in 1907. She settled at Squirrel Run and married Giusvalla native Francesco Rosaio at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church on September 5, 1907. Katie Rosaio died in Wilmington on October 25, 1925 of kidney disease and is buried in Cathedral Cemetery.

Francesco Rosaio was already related to another Perrone family through his mother, Maria Caterina “Marinìn” Perrone, who was from the family “Perrone della Collà.” Because there were few family names in Giusvalla, it was common to have multiple generations marrying into families with the same name.

Giovanni Battista “Batistén” (John), born in Giusvalla in 1880, he came to the United States in 1906 and settled at Squirrel Run. He soon bought his own shop at 210 West 8th Street in the city of Wilmington and ran a successful business building and repairing shoes. John married Giusvalla native Giuseppina “Josephine” Pesce at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church on October 5, 1911. They had five children: Antonia, Paolo, Alicina (Elsie), Anne & John.

John died at home, 3107 Monroe Street in Wilmington on April 20, 1924 of complications from a disease of the stomach and is buried in St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Cemetery. His widow Josephine remarried in 1927 to her recently widowed brother-in-law, Francesco Rosaio.

Paolina (Pauline), born in Giusvalla in 1883, she worked as a dressmaker in Toulon, France with her sister Caterina for a couple years before arriving in the United States in 1907. She settled in Squirrel Run and married Giusvalla native Giuseppe Camoirano at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church in 1907. Paolina and her husband moved to Valley Road, Hockessin where they worked for many years in the mushroom business and became very well known in the area. Paolina died October 31, 1965 at Memorial Hospital in Wilmington and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Ashland, Delaware. Giuseppe and Paolina had four children: Ernest Jr., Edna, Josephine & Charles.

Paolina’s father Giacomo came from Giusvalla to live with her in 1931. He died at her home in Hockessin on April 16, 1935 and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Kennett Twp.

Maria (Mary), born in Giusvalla in 1888, she came to the United States in 1921 and settled at Squirrel Run. She married at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church on September 2, 1922 to the widow Francesco “Masetta” Baccino. Francesco’s 1st wife, Luigia Perrone, was a 1st cousin of Francesco Rosaio (who was married to Maria’s sister Caterina). Maria suffered from tuberculosis and died six years after her marriage to Masetta on December 30, 1928 at Delaware State Hospital, Farnhurst. She is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Kennett Twp.

The twice widowed Masetta married a third and final time to the widow Secondina (Olivieri) Zunino at St. Patrick’s Church in Kennett Square on August 1, 1929.

In the picture: The Perrone siblings at Squirrel Run. Standing left to right: Katie (Perrone) Rosaio; Maria (Perrone) Baccino; Paolina (Perrone) Camoirano. Seated: John Battista Perrone. This picture was taken Sept. 23, 1923, the day of the original “Tutti I Giusvallini” reunion.